Drummer ask me a question.....
The drummer asked me a question last night and I'm sure there is a better answer than the one I gave.
We play from fake chord sheet music which of course does not have the bars, or measures shown. He wanted to know what goes into each measure of fake chord. I did not have an answer ready as I had never thought of it before.
I said you could count the lyric syllable - one note (beat) per syllable and then match this up with the time signature. I got a blank stare from him. The only time I see fake chord with a time signature shown is if the piece is in waltz time it will say 3/4, but never anything more than that.
He knew I use Nashville numbers and was trying to see if Nashville numbers would be something that would help him. I tie my Nashville numbers to the chord shown over the lyric word, i.e. I change the C chord to a 4 or whatever. Measures have nothing to do with that. Which now brings up the question most Nashville number charts show the measure, no lyrics, but, each measure is shown.
Chicken or egg. You guys that make Nashville number charts how do you decide what goes into each measure?
I'm sure there are some old drummers that have come over to the bass --do you have an answer for my drummer?
I'm not sure I understand the question. The lyric is written to a specific melody, right? So notate the melody. Are you talking about what feel or style he should play?
I've never seen a lead sheet that doesn't have the time signature and bars delineated, if what you're looking at has neither, how do you know when to play what, if you haven't already heard the tune?
Lead sheet does have the treble clef, time signature, measures, etc, but we play from fake chord.
Which has none of these. And I think is the point of the question he is asking. On a song he has not heard before he will lay out and listen to the vocalist for several measures and get a feel for the song then join in. I know this, about laying out till he decides what beat because I'm waiting on him to set the beat.
Of course we do have a rehearsal before going live, I think he wants to mark his fake chord in such a way that 6 months from now, when we use this song again, he does not have to start from scratch.
How do drummers use fake chord?
Cheatsheets like these will assume you roughly know the song already. So it shows you what chord(s) to play over the lyrics. Sometimes it will be one chord per measure, sometimes two (or more), depending on the song. It's not "real" notated sheet music, so it's going to leave out some information, which you'll have to supply.
With something like "Happy Birthday", you'll know the melody and roughly the beat. All the sheet does is provide you with the key and chords relevant to that key. Most of it is one chord per measure, except at the end, where there are two. Just like that.
If you are in some kind of "Free Jazz", please disregard my opinion.
I have had the same issue as your drummer. That kind of 'chart' works for people who know the structure and vocal phrasing of a song, but it's an in adequate way of describing the structure of a song to someone who doesn't know it already. I jammed with a group for a while that used this kind of chart exclusively, and also chose relatively obscure songs. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it sounded like a train wreck.
Nashville notation is much better in this regard. It defines the structure of the song (e.g. verse for 16 bars, 4 bar bridge, 8 bar chorus, AABA, or whatever) and can also define the feel and phrasing within that structure. It is sometimes simplified for drummers as all '1' for the chords (though I personally don't see why a drummer would need that.)
To me, lyric sheets like this are to NN charts the way that TAB is to standard notation. They tell you something about what to play, but are quite deficient in the level of detail. They both require an aural map of the song to make any sense. They're more like cheat sheets than a tool for noting the song (or notes). Sometimes they are sufficient because you know the particular song, or maybe they're enough because the song is simple or follows the genre's particular cliches.
I personally think that the time it takes to write out a NN chart is well spent. It is a better way of communicating the song, and it is a more robust way of recalling a song and playing it on the fly months or years later. It sounds to me like your drummer is looking for a way to bridge a gap, and a more structured chart like NN should do that.
I see charts like that all the time on church or singer-songwriter gigs. What I've usually found is that they work best over tunes with very simple and easy-to-anticipate harmonic rhythm - nothing too complicated or syncopated. I never bother with inserting bar lines or time signatures, unless there's a specific place in the tune that needs it, such as a single measure of 2/4 in an otherwise 4/4 tune, or maybe some dotted rhythms where the harmony is anticipated. I guess it's just an experience thing - usually for the types of gigs I see these charts at, you can figure out pretty quickly based on the singer how the changes are going to "move" throughout the tune.
I've spent many hours taking 'fake chord' charts, which I call songwriter charts, and laying out the syllables so that they accurately fall within the correct measures of a lead sheet-type chart. Then I can put in all the chord changes, slash chords, and notated fills. Songwriters often look at me as if I've performed some sort of black magic in the process.
It's just beats and syllables.
I've never seen a fake book written like that. Even the sparse one's tend to have a time signature, bars and actual staves with melody etc. That looks more like a cheat sheet someone would write out for a request 2 seconds before a gig with the instruction to 'just follow me'
I have written out rough sketches like that for myself at times but I can't even begin to imagine how lazy someone would have to be to miss out barlines. Either that or extreme carpal tunnel/missing limbs/cramp/intoxication.
I'm with the other guys here. I think you definitely need to know the song fairly well, just from a listening perspective, to use that kind of cheat sheet. It annoys me enough when busker books have the melody notated but the chords placed in random positions so you don't know if they are on beat 3 or 4 or an offbeat. So there's really no answer to your drummer friend. You are simply using the lyrics as a guide to hang your chords on. Measures are irrelevant.
I definitely agree with your drummer. Your notes provide nothing at all for him. They may be perfectly acceptable placeholders and reminders for you. But they are not music notation. To a musician coming in from the cold, (regardless of their ability to read actual music notation) they mean absolutely nothing. He's probably better off improvising some basic drum parts until he learns the songs by ear. Then he can write his own charts if he so chooses.
Without discussing the virtues of going to the next step and using Fake Book or other notations styles, he needs to come up with a shorthand that he can use.
My band uses this cheat sheet method, which has pros and cons. My drummer writes little notations on his copy. Things like:
- 4 count or 2 count lead-in.
- Lead-in click only, fills, HH etc
- 4/4 swing
- On top of beat
- HH and snare only (for a bridge or dynamic change)
- etc, etc
These style of cheat sheets are limited, but also give you a little more freedom to create your own version of the tune. The other members really should be putting their own notes on their copy so they know the little minutia of the tune so as to not miss dynamic changes or drop-outs, etc.
Also, these should be considered cheat sheets only, not actual notation charts. These are for practice and rehearsal only, not for getting through gigs.
If you play with a lot of different folks, you're likely to see these and many other variations of them, better and worse. NN is great for those that understand it (not a big deal IMO) and IME a very natural way to look and think about a tune, no need to worry about which key. Don't get me wrong, I'll take a lead sheet any day, but my main issue with this kind of thing is most of the folks who write them know the tune or think they know the tune, but nearly always leave out critical information that a lead sheet wouldn't. Notation of any type, from real to 'fake', is there to let you know (or try to let you know) how to play the song. The faster you commit the whole structure to memory, the less time you need the notation. A good band leader who can communicate using NN well, can be a joy to work for, as he can teach you many tunes quickly, often without anything written down, at least IME. Of course learning tunes with lots of changes or sections will be easier with a lead sheet. If you want all the nuance and specific details for a tune (many of us do) the sheet music is necessary.
To the OP, if the tunes are relatively simple, most good drummers should be able to provide a workable beat from hearing the tune once or twice. If he needs more than that, notate the lyrics so he knows how the meter fit with the words, sort of how you did it with your Happy Birthday chart, but include some measures.
edit: +1 to Mr. Viper
are you aware of how many bars of each chord youre playing?
Just one more reason to know theory and to learn to read standard notation. These things are easily communicated between musicians who do. Tab, chord charts and lead sheets only convey part of the information. I can't imagine chord charts or even lead sheets being of much use to a drummer who hasn't ever heard/played the song and doesn't know the tempo, rhythm or groove.
Fake chord as shown with the Happy Birthday example is used all the time in our neck of the woods. I'm really surprised more do not play from fake chord. That is normally the first question the band director asks, if you can play from fake chord that is the first qualification for membership.
Keyboardists play from fake chord here.
Yeah, songwriter charts. They are not uncommon anywhere that acoustic guitar(ist)s are found. The problem, as has been identified, is that they contain no rhythmic info. One beat per syllable is ok, but knowing where the bar lines are is much more useful for the rhythm section players.
That's why , for some tunes, I end up counting out the bars and re writing the charts at least like below:
The following is "Desire - U2.
How many beats do you hear in one syllable SI while the singer sings "Desire"?
Yes Standard notation goes into more detail, however, I'm never handed sheet music with standard notation. The band uses fake chord and we all take it from there. We really would have a train wreck if some used tabs, some used standard notation and others used fake chord. We all play from the same sheet of music - fake chord.
Again that is why he is asking the question - how do you indicate measures on fake chord? Hash marks seem to be the answer.
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